Gidget Bananas, over at Clothesaholic, is running this week's Carnival of the Couture, and the topic is Clothes on Film. (And yes, I've been earwormed with Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" ever since I saw the topic.) Here's her question:
What movie, TV show or video featured clothes that made an impression on you? What movie, TV or video wardrobe did you try to emulate? How many times did you dress up as Emma Peel (or for the mens, John Steed) at Halloween, and if not, why not? 'Fess up, I know you have at least one vest a la Annie Hall, or torn sweat-shirt a la Flashdance, stuffed back there in your Closet of Shame.
I have made no secret of my love for Doris Day, but I don't think I have ever articulated WHY I love her, or at least her Pillow Talk/Touch of Mink film persona, so madly. I think it boils down to this: the basic plot of a Doris Day movie, at least the ones that I have seen, is that she is happily living her life, doing her job, getting up in the morning and going to sleep in the evening, all in a state of contentment. She's not pining. She's not waiting around for something, or somebody — she's doing stuff! She is active, not passive. And this, I think, manifests itself in the clothes for her movies — it has always seemed to me that her characters dress to please themselves first. If Rock Hudson likes the dress? Bonus. But it's not her focus.
I googled around for some pictures from her movies, and found plenty — but this one is the one that called to me. Look how perfect, how clean and unfussy her dress is. Look how happy she looks, how relaxed, how comfortable in her own skin. She's not dressing "sexy", but she looks like a woman, not a girl.
I want to start a "What Would Doris Wear?" movement. To qualify, a dress would have to be wearable — comfortable, practical, with pockets, easy to move in, and suitable for a day's work. It would have to be pretty, but not juvenile or infantilizing. It would be feminine–womanly but not vampy. And most of all, it would have to make you feel happy, cheerful, comfortable, ready for anything and optimistic about what the day will bring.
There's been criticism, I know, of Doris Day's movie persona as "overly virginal" or prissy. I think virginity was really a metaphor for agency. It wasn't really her body that she was reluctant to surrender — it was her independence. Which would have been a much more radical idea for the time; easier to make the conflict about sex than about autonomy! (Film critics, feel free to jump in here.)
Okay, one more picture, this from an earlier film:
C'mon, don't you want a red & white dress with polka dots, accordion pleats, and Western detailing? I know I do! And I'd be this happy all day in it.